Apple Posts Record Quarterly Results Despite Parts Shortages
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Apple Inc. posted record quarterly results even as supply shortages hindered sales, and Chief Executive Tim Cook said those constraints are improving. The iPhone maker had previously cautioned that sales growth in the important holiday quarter would be affected in the period as tech and auto industries face parts shortages, in particular a lack of microprocessors, amid disruptions from the global pandemic. "We saw supply constraints across most of our products," Mr. Cook said in an interview as the company released its results. "We're forecasting that we will be less [constrained] in March than we were in the December quarter." Year-over-year iPhone sales rose 9% to $71.6 billion during the fiscal first quarter that ran October through December, the company said. That beat Wall Street expectations for a 3% gain, according to the average estimate from analysts surveyed by FactSet. Analysts project iPhone revenue will rise less than 1% this fiscal year compared with the preceding year, when sales rose 39% and helped fuel Apple's greatest year ever. Even with a slowdown, the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant reported a record $34.6 billion profit, or $2.10 a share, for the important holiday period, according to analysts' estimates. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.90 a share.
The SMI gained on Thursday 0.7 per cent to 12,177 points. Among the 20 SMI stocks, there were 14 price gainers and six price losers. 41.22 (previously: 43.7) million shares were traded. Shares in the financial sector, which is seen as a beneficiary of rising interest rates, were again sought after. One exception was UBS (-0.7%), which had announced the acquisition of Wealthfront for 1.4 billion dollars the previous day after the close. Credit Suisse, on the other hand, was up 1.3 per cent. Shares in insurers Swiss Life, Swiss Re and Zurich improved by 0.8 to 1.0 per cent. Logitech (+0.8 per cent) continued its rise for the third day in a row. On the one hand, they benefited from the broad recovery in technology stocks. In addition, the company had presented strong business figures on Tuesday and raised its earnings targets, which is likely to have fuelled sustained interest in the share. SGS (-0.7%) was on the losing side. The business figures of the goods testing company were "only" in line with expectations, according to reports.
European equity indices closed higher on Thursday after a volatile session, with concerns about monetary tightening in the US offset by strong corporate results, notably in the banking and semiconductor sectors, and accelerating US economic growth in the last quarter. The Stoxx Europe 600 index gained 0.7% on Thursday to 470.3 points. In Paris, the CAC 40 closed up 0.6 percent at 7,023.80 points, while the SBF 120 gained 0.5 percent at 5,423.19 points. In Frankfurt, the DAX 40 gained 0.4% and in London, the FTSE 100 gained 1.1%. Deutsche Bank AG posted a rise in fourth-quarter profit, even though its investment-banking business took a hit from rising costs. The better-than-expected result has paved the way for the bank to pay a dividend to shareholders for the first time since 2019. Shares of the bank were up over 5% midday in Europe. Like major investment banks in the U.S., Deutsche Bank has posted bumper profits during the pandemic. Client activity boomed as companies raised huge amounts of capital and markets entered a furious period of trading. Those trends started to fade in recent months. But Deutsche Bank saw other units pick up steam in the fourth quarter, including its business catering to corporate clients. STMicroelectronics NV on Thursday posted higher net profit for the fourth quarter amid strong demand for semiconductors, and outlined plans to invest about $3.4 billion to $3.6 billion in capital expenditure this year to further increase production capacity. The European chip maker said net profit climbed to $750 million from $582 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.
U.S. stocks fell Thursday in another frenzied session as investors try to gauge how monetary policy and the prospects for the economy will affect corporate profits and stock valuations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.31 points, or less than 0.1%, to 34160.78, after rising as many as 600 points in the morning. The S&P 500 lost 23.42 points, or 0.5% to 4326.51, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 189.34 points, or 1.4%, to 13352.78. The U.S. economy grew rapidly in the fourth quarter of last year, advancing to a 6.9% annual rate, capping the strongest year of growth in nearly four decades as the country rebounded quickly from the pandemic-induced recession. But growth recently has run into obstacles that could lead to much more modest growth this year, economists say. Southwest Airlines Co. said it swung to its first quarterly profit during the pandemic without the help of government aid, but faces pressure from rising costs and disruption from the Omicron variant. The Dallas-based airline on Thursday posted a fourth-quarter profit of $68 million, up from a loss of $908 million a year earlier, fueled by strong demand for travel over the holidays. But Southwest said the Omicron variant will likely derail its previous expectation for a profitable start to 2022. The new variant has slowed both leisure and business travel, and Southwest expects that to reduce operating revenue by $330 million in January and February.
After some heavy losses during the week, the stock markets in East Asia and Australia show a countermovement at the end of the week. In Tokyo and Seoul, the indices rose strongly by up to 2.1 per cent. The Nikkei index is at 26,708 points. Sydney has already closed with a plus of 2.2 per cent. The Chinese stock exchanges are lagging behind, with some investors probably playing it safe and closing out a few positions before the New Year holidays. Shanghai is merely holding its ground, Hong Kong is down 1.0 per cent.
The benchmark Treasury yield rose in Asia after it dropped by the most in almost a week on Thursday. That shrunk the gaps between yields of various maturities to the narrowest levels in years, a possible sign of continued worry about the economic outlook by investors.
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